Facebook to Get More Social, McAfee Crashes PCs
The travel industry wasn't the only one affected by the volcano that erupted in Iceland. Mobile-phone vendors and suppliers adjusted shipping methods to get handsets from Asia to Europe. Some McAfee corporate clients most likely cursed the company after a security update crashed the computers of hundreds of thousands of users. If you're a financial and technology wonk, then read on for highlights on this week's earnings reports from major IT vendors. Facebook's efforts to make the Web more social may result in some lost user privacy. But perhaps the site should bolster its security first. A hacker claims to have the log-in information to more than 1 million accounts, a security research company said.
1. Few answers after McAfee antivirus update hits Intel, others: A buggy antivirus update from security vendor McAfee caused corporate customers' Windows XP machines to endlessly crash and reboot. Hundreds of thousands of machines were affected, including those used by chip maker Intel, a U.K. IT outsourcing company, and local government and police forces in some U.S. states. McAfee on Thursday attributed the snafu to the update misidentifying a Windows file as a virus.
2. Facebook wants the Web's default to be social: Facebook used its developer conference to announce application development platform changes that either make the Web more social or decrease user privacy, depending on your perspective. Facebook and other Web sites will integrate user information and use this data to offer a more personalized Web experience. A person visiting a Facebook partner site would see content based on the preferences previously stated on Facebook. The social-networking site is also releasing iFrame plug-ins that will allow Web developers to place Facebook functions, such as the "Like" button, on their sites, allowing Facebook and its partners to know the type of content a user prefers. Analysts said Facebook could pull off this endeavor, but questioned if the measure would turn off some users over privacy concerns.
3. Phone manufacturers learn to cope with ash cloud: In addition to airlines, the ash cloud caused by an Icelandic volcano also affected the IT industry. Some cell phone manufacturers, which ship their products from Asia by plane, developed innovative routing methods after the ash cloud shut down European air space for several days. A Swedish phone retailer had the phones flown to countries with open airports and then used trucks to complete the shipment. A European mobile-phone service provider said the air cargo conundrum hindered the availability of two already popular handsets, while a Taiwanese phone maker said the volcano's overall impact depends on when planes can resume flying in Europe.
4. Wall Street Beat: Tech earnings shine: This week brought a plethora of quarterly earnings reports from several IT and telecommunications companies. Apple produced impressive numbers, boosting quarterly profit by 90 percent and increasing iPhone sales by 131 percent compared to last year's second quarter. Microsoft announced third-quarter revenue that increased by 6 percent from the same period last year, while IBM's 16 percent rise in its first-quarter revenue bodes well for the overall IT industry. Verizon Communications, eBay and AT&T, among other businesses, also issued earnings information.
5. Adobe tosses in Flash towel after Apple limits iPhone dev: The prospect of running Flash applications on Apple's iPhone or iPad officially died this week when Adobe Systems, Flash's developer, said it is ceasing work on a tool that would bring the popular multimedia software to the devices. The companies have clashed over Flash for a while, but the situation intensified recently. Apple banned developers from using cross-platform compilers, tools that could be used to port the software for Apple's mobile devices. In a blog post, an Adobe employee responded to Apple's new developer terms with some choice words. Does the iTunes Store sell dirges?
6. Gov't regulators slam Google's privacy efforts: In a letter, government regulators from 10 countries, including France and Germany, warned Internet-based companies to respect privacy laws when introducing products or face fines and other punishments. Google received most of the privacy regulators' ire for the launch of its Buzz social-networking service, which users complained lacked adequate features that allowed them to control how their data was shared with other users. Facebook also received some flak. One official involved with the letter said Web companies should view the missive as a final warning before governments intervene to protect people's privacy.
7. Fate of network admin Terry Childs now in jury's hands: A jury will now decide if a former San Francisco city network administrator is guilty of breaching California hacking laws for refusing to hand over administrative passwords during a 2008 dispute. Closing arguments in the city's case against Terry Childs finished on Monday. The trial has lasted for almost six months and featured testimony from the city's mayor and Cisco Systems' chief security officer. If convicted for disrupting the city's computer systems, Childs faces five years in prison.
8. Microsoft, Oracle differ on cloud visions: Oracle and Microsoft discussed the prospects of cloud computing in the enterprise and, perhaps not unexpectedly, both software vendors advocated a hybrid model of cloud and in-house computing for the most effective results. While the companies agreed on using cloud computing as needed, they differed on execution. Microsoft talked up its public cloud products, like its Azure online OS, while Oracle plugged its offerings that allow businesses to build internal clouds.
9. 1.5 million stolen Facebook IDs up for sale: Security researchers revealed this week that they recently discovered a hacker who is selling the user names and passwords for 1.5 million Facebook accounts. Hackers use the compromised accounts to scam and spam the account holders' friends. Depending on the number of friends a person has, the hacker is selling the account information for the bargain price of US$25 to $45 for 1,000 accounts. The security firm couldn't confirm the legitimacy of the accounts, and Facebook didn't respond to a request for comment. But if the hacker's wares are valid, one out of every 300 Facebook users is vulnerable.
10. Apple's iPad selling well overseas ahead of official launch and Illegal satellite TV in China brings CNN to the masses: Asia's clandestine electronics market also proves interesting, and here are two items to back that claim. The iPad is proving popular with Taiwanese consumers although Apple has yet to launch the product internationally. One Taipei vendor claimed to order 300 of the tablet PCs from a U.S. retailer that specializes in obtaining hard-to-find merchandise for foreign vendors. Satellite television is booming in China, despite government efforts to control who has access to this service, which offers content that the state bans domestic broadcasters from airing. While this market is technically illegal, the country's growing middle class has adopted the technology.